The Educated Patient

Taking a Risk with a Chronic Condition

Moving Forward into 2020

The end of the year is a time of reflection for me. Moving forward into 2020, I am struck by how far I have traveled in my health recovery. According to my personal trainer, I am now an athlete at 56, and can dead lift and back squat my body weight. I have never felt better in my life. This year has been remarkable on so many levels. I am very grateful to everyone that encouraged, motivated and advised me along the way. Thank you for your patience, your tolerance, and for suspending your disbelief.

Poster Presentations

The poster was presented at three conferences this year. In June, it was at The United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation in Washington, DC. In December, it won a prize at the Mitonet Conference in Toronto, Canada. It was also at the Mitochondrial Medicine Conference in Oxford, UK in December. The website was launched in November to support patients seeking options.

Framing the Argument

The medical team and I are still working to prepare the article for publication. Fingers crossed, it will be published somewhere, sometime next year. We are still looking for the right fit. The lifestyle interventions that brought about such a dramatic change in my health clearly worked for me. There is increasing evidence that it might have a broader application to many people with chronic conditions.

Physicians and scientists have some tough choices ahead. They can accept the positive test results that these lifestyle interventions provide and acknowledge the benefits to patients. They might try to refute the validity of the tests themselves (change the goalposts). My hope is they do the right thing and revise the advice they give patients. This is how new knowledge is supposed to supplant old knowledge. Scientists can’t ignore the data that proves their past advice wrong. They wouldn’t be scientists then.

Search for Community

As a physician, you have likely been educated and qualified based on theories and lifestyle guidelines that are now recognized as less than adequate. Imagine if your advice contributed to obesity and diabetes in your patients. It would mean that you might have to admit the lifestyle advice you gave was misguided. This takes courage and strength of character. It might mean challenging the conventional wisdom of the profession. It might mean risking your professional reputation. If risk averse, you might decide to go along with the conventional wisdom instead. Moving forward into 2020, my hope is that there are at least a few physicians and scientists who care more about correcting the science than they do about protecting their reputation or personal financial interests.

What’s at stake?

I am very aware of what’s a stake. There is a powerful pharmaceutical industry that sees a threat to profitability. Imagine if people stopped needing statins? There are large interest groups in agriculture that want to keep people fat and sick. Imagine if people stopped eating three meals and two snacks daily? That would impact profit. Maybe the large insurance companies will realize the natural ally they have in educated patients. A patient who takes no drugs saves them money. They can do the right thing for the wrong reason. They can take on the large pharmaceuticals who practice predatory pricing.

Where is the government in this healthcare debate? Why are they not a natural community for a low carbohydrate, low cost approach to individual healthcare management? Where is the funding for research into such a common sense approach to health management. The Canada Food guide, published in 2018 is a case in point. It is the least offensive document to any special interest except one. The general public who should be outraged. It does not clarify what constitutes a healthy diet as much as obscure responsibility for bad advice.

Tsunami Warning

Moving forward into 2020, lifestyle management to promote good health is a strategy that’s here to stay. Patients are leading physicians and for good reason. Patients have more to lose. They are looking to social media for advice on the management of chronic conditions. They do so because they can’t get good advice from their medical team. Physicians can either educate themselves and become an educated patient ally, or risk becoming irrelevant.

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2 replies

  1. Your story is very inspirational. I believe you have raised many valuable take home points from your experience. It’s great to hear that physicians are starting to take note. Great to meet you in Toronto

    • Happy New Years! Thank you so much for your kind words. I thought the hard part would be reclaiming my health! I am quickly learning that the real challenge will be in changing the culture! Maybe we’ll see you at MitoNet 2020!

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